Granby " Windy Gap Firming Project generates West Slope heat at hearing |

Granby " Windy Gap Firming Project generates West Slope heat at hearing

Tonya Binia/Sky-Hi Daily News

Threats to the region’s coveted natural resource, water, occupied the minds of dozens of Grand County citizens Thursday as they defended why East Slope users should not be allowed to siphon more under the Continental Divide.

“I can say, a great deal more conservation needs to take place on the Eastern Slope,” said Grand Lake resident Sylvia Hines, who vacationed at Grand Lake every summer since the 1930s and lived in Fort Collins for 36 years.

Representatives from some of the East Slope cities that seek more Fraser/Colorado river water to satisfy impending growth also gave testimony.

The Windy Gap Firming Project proposes to divert up to triple the amount of water diverted from Grand County in an average year.

But not long after their testimonies, others pointed out that cities such as Broomfield and Loveland still supply water to customers using a flat rate structure, meaning residents pay the same amount no matter how much water they use.

Cindy Southway of Grand Lake twice delivered her comment about conservation to ensure it would be heard and recorded.

“There needs to be mandatory water conservation restrictions on all subdistrict water users,” she said “I repeat …”

Grand County citizens made known that ever-present diversions already are affecting fish quantities and habitat in the Colorado River.

“The Colorado River system is already stressed,” said Mitch Kirwin, proprietor of the fishing shop Mo Henry’s in Fraser. “Our economy is tied to our ecology.”

Kirwin called for “reverse action” if possible, rather than “no action” as listed in a draft environmental impacts statement (EIS) analyzing proposed delivery projects.

The EIS’s “No action” would still expand an eastern-side reservoir and divert up to twice what is currently diverted in an average year.

And many Grand Lake-area residents said they worry about how current water delivery is impacting lakes.

Gay Shaffer told U.S. Bureau of Reclamation comment-takers that she has spent 73 summers on Grand Lake and has witnessed lake damage firsthand brought about by Colorado-Big Thompson pumping. More Windy Gap water diversion would mean poorer water quality for it and Shadow Mountain Reservoir.

Shaffer called it a “travesty.”

“The water quality has totally degraded,” she said.

Fishing Lodge owner James Parker said a receding Lake Granby, resulting from greater storage over the Divide, will cause much harm to his business. He characterized the project as taking recreation dollars from the West Slope to build recreation elsewhere as a way “this community gets choked out.”

But the most fiery delivery was from State Rep. Al White who, speaking as a long-time citizen of Grand County, said, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!” ” regarding the present and past water policies that fail to offer a “win-win” for northernwestern Colorado.

Most of the 47 comments in the assembly of 140 people, compared to 64 EIS meeting attendees in Greeley on Tuesday, called for an extension of the EIS comment period long enough for data from Grand County’s Stream Management Plan to be included, improved conservation for East Slope users, and greater consideration of Denver’s firming project that would also impact Grand County’s rivers.

” Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail

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